The Occupy D.C. campaign, mostly peaceful since its start two months ago, turned confrontational yesterday when police detained 31 protesters during a tense day-long standoff in a downtown Washington, D.C., grassy public square, the Washington Post reports. It was the first case of mass arrests at the group's base camp in Washington, and the clash resembled those between police and Occupy protesters in other cities. The day began with a seemingly minor dispute over a 15-foot-tall wood shelter protesters put up Saturday night.
It soon escalated into a noisy downtown disruption — and a psychological turning point in the protests — after a group of demonstrators defied repeated orders by the U.S. Park Police to dismantle and abandon the half-built shed. Six people clung to the roof of the shed, but police removed them all last night and dismantled the shelter. Participants said the structure’s purpose was to provide a warm gathering place as winter weather set in, and that it complied with federal park regulations. Police officials said the building was illegal because it appeared to be permanent and there was no permit for it.